This restored Arabian bathhouse down a tiny alley in the Santa Cruz district is the perfect escape from the baking afternoon heat. It's mixed, and you can bring your own bathers. After cold mint tea in the relaxation room you are invited to dip into each of the three pools (warm, hot and then cold), steam yourself in the hammam, relax in the whirpool and then float gently in the salt pool.
A soothing, indulgent atmosphere is created by the glistening white of the marble, and the illuminated blue water that plays patterns across the dark red plaster walls, faded wooden ceilings and archways. Your journey through the baths is guided by shimmering scented candles and Arabic lamps. Visits last for 90 minutes but you must book ahead, as they limit numbers due to its popularity. It is open until midnight, if you fancy a late dip.
Aire de Sevilla, Calle Aire 15
A quiet and friendly hotel despite its central location (it literally is about 50m from the cathedral and main street). There are only 12 rooms in this old building, which have been renovated in a modern style with dark wood and white furnishing, and very sleek bathrooms. If you get a superior room you may be lucky to get one of the two rooms on the top floor, which have outdoor patios giving stunning views of the cathedral. The staff here are genuinely friendly and helpful, and it's a great place to stay.
The festival of La Tomatina in Spain gives new meaning to the expression 'playing with your food'. For most of the year, Buñol is a ho-hum industrial town, about 40km (25m) from Valencia, quietly going about its own business. But come the last Wednesday of August, the town's streets turn into a salsa riot, with over 20,000 revellers pelting each other with large, red, squishy tomatoes.
There are lots of theories on how the festival started; one is that it began in 1945 with anti-Franco protests, although any link between Franco and tomatoes remains ambigous. Another theory is that it started when two friends had a stand-up knock-down argument while sharing a meal. The argument quickly reached food-throwing proportions, infected acquaintances and nearby diners, moved out into the street, spread through the suburbs, progressed to neighbouring towns and eventually wound up as an annual event that attracted 'mata throwers from all corners of the the world.
The most likely explanation is that it started as a juvenile class war between bare-footed Troskyist macarras and el-ivy leaguers staying at Papa's summer house, the latter passing the former in a provocative way - that is to say, within tomato-throwing range. Like gangs of adolescents anywhere, it soon became a point of honour and a mark of tribal loyalty to make a stand at the tomato-stained barriers. As the event turned into a national event it lost its hostile political edge and became, instead, an unbridled Dionysian riot of flesh-baring bodies covered head to toe in tomato goo.
The standard uniform is an old T-shirt, old shorts and eye goggles. T-shirts with bullseyes printed on them are not recommended. Nearly 140 tonnes of tomatoes are trucked in from around the countryside and the argy-bargy begins with the firing of a rocket. An hour later the end of the festival is announced with the firing of another rocket and the clean up of the tomato-slimed streets begin.
La Tomatina takes place in Buñol, a small town about 40km (about 25 miles) west of Valencia and well connected by train and bus.
On the last Wednesday of August, at the peak of tomato season, between 10 am and 1 pm. Everybody enjoys and the streets turn into rivers of tomato juice.
I spent a few days in Valencia in March. If you haven't been to "las Fallas de Valencia" you don't know what a party is!! They burn huge monuments made of wood and cardboard in the middle of the streets. There are thousands of "Fallas", firecrackers, and festivals everywhere!!
My friends and i stayed in Red Hostel and saved a lot of money for going out. The hostel staff told us where to go, how to get to parties and even a handsome receptionist went out with us to the beach!!
They have internet, air conditioning, kitchen, shared and private rooms... It's open 24/7 and waiting for us after party. Our rooms were coloured painted and we saw the river of Valencia by the window!! Best holidays ever had in a lovely hostel!!
Restaurant & tapas bar serving delicious local food in traditional patio. Exquisite 'salmorejo' (thick gazpacho), 'Flamenquin' (special rolled sausage), melt in the mouth bull's tail stew (rabo de toro), shellfish salad (Salpicon de mariscos) etc. Really friendly owner (3rd generation at La Fragua) and staff and all for around 22E per head.
Restaurante La Fragua
Calleja del Arco, s/n, 14003
Traditional Córdobese food at good prices.
Tel: 00 34 957 484 572
In the Rías Baixas, each season and each month has its own gastronomical festival to honour the different tasty food of this region.
So, for example, the first two weeks of April, there is an oyster festival. The festival is during this date because the oysters are in the best moment to be tasted. Together with the gastronomic festival, there are other performances for the public.
You can enjoy non-stop eating from the oyster sample plates.
In the south of the province of Pontevedra, you can find the best three campsites in this region.
These campsites have all the facilities needed for camping and they are getting more and more confortable. They are located near to the beach and near to the most touristic villages of Galicia.
Among the facilities of these campsites you can find: health care, hot water showers, supermarket, restaurant, laundry, post office, swimming pool, sport facilities and others.
They are the following:
Camping Bayona Playa - Bungalow Park. It is located in the touristic village of Baiona, a wonderful place to enjoy holidays with wonderful landscapes of the Ría de Vigo and islands such as the Cíes Islands.
Camping Playa América. It is located in the municipality of Nigrán and very close to Vigo.
Camping Santa Tecla. This one is the furthest camping from the cities of Vigo and Pontevedra. However, it is very close to Portugal. It is located in the municipality of A Guarda, where you can visit the Mount Santa Tegra with its old archaeological site of the Celtic civilizations. It has a privileged location in the Ría de Vigo, in the estuary of the River Miño. It is an amazing landscape nobody should miss and even has a disco.
Pazos are typical Galician manor houses from the 16th or 18th centuries. They are buildings built to order by bourgeois Galician people. In these pazos, you can travel along history and recall the dresses, traditions and furnishings of the Modern Ages.
Some of the pazos are private property, so they are closed to the public. Likewise, the visitor can only enjoy the outside pazo.
Others are open to the public, and some of these are available for accommodation. One example of a pazo restored as a hotel is the Pazo da Buzaca, in Moraña. It is a wonderful manor house composed of three buildings. It has rooms decorated in different styles, a dining room with fireplace and a library. It is a luxury building for lovers of history and nature.
Others, as the Pazo de Lourizán hold different exhibitions. In a few words, pazos are regal buildings.
Each year my husband and I bundle our three children, Nathan, 15, Emily 12, and Oscar, 7, out to Magalluf, Majorca to stay with his parents.
Each year we try in vain to find something that will suit all of us and fail miserably.
This year we did our research and bought tickets for Pirates Adventure show online.
It was a brilliant child-friendly night of entertainment; amazing acrobatics for the adults, dancing girls for Nathan and slapstick larks for Emily, Oscar and the grandparents!
Carretera la Porrassa
Telephone: +34 971 130 411
Fax: +34 971 130 083
Web site: www.piratesadventure.com
We had a brilliant time in this great one bed flat with two rooftop terraces with great views over the city. Situated on a lovely and quiet pedestrian street in the Borne area, just a minute from the Picasso museum and Citudella Park and right opposite the very cool Bar Casa Paco, as recommended by DJ Cristian Vogel. Lift, aircon, CD player etc etc.
Book through Visit Barcelona (0871 990 30 45) or see it on their website at www.visit-bcn.com/inglaterra/opcion_mestre2.htm
I am just back from Barcelona. Wonderful city, even if I found a temperature that was much more similar to the winter rather than the beginning of spring. Anyway, I spent my stay at Hotel Lleo, a nice hotel, clean, with friendly staff, and located in a highly strategic location. I would recommend it to everybody, and, definitely, I will stay at it next time I'll be in Barcelona again.
C/ Pelai, 22-24, 80001 Barcelona
It's a bike rental in the centre of town. We tried some other companies, with bad bicycles and service. It's clear how much they care about the service, the bikes are fantastic and the people in the shop are very nice with us all the time. They prepare the bikes and give us advice about routes. Probably the best bicycle rental in Valencia so far.
I recommend this website as it deals in great tours around Seville. I went to Seville during the Christmas period and although the weather wasn't great, the trip was fantastic due to the tour. For anyone thinking of visiting Seville i strongly suggest using this website.
This is a 'cultural weekly' put together by expats living in the city. It was in print, and I think they'll be going back into print for the summer, but they've got a website which is always great to find unique places to eat or alternative events in the city.
They also offer cultural commentary and columns. Sometimes it's better than others, but always interesting.
A small modern restaurant near the heart of Palma. Modern European cooking, reasonably priced and absolutely fanatastic flavours. Large board with specialities plus regular menu. Vegetarians catered for but the fish dishes are excellent and the sauces some of the best I have tasted. A truly memorable eating experience. Try it!
Caller Fabrica No 23, Santa Catalina area, Palma, Mallorca - Tel 971 91 93 23
During your holiday it's always worth a visit to one of the markets which are to be found in many of the island's villages.
The most fascinating of these takes place every Wednesday in the small town of Sineu, close to Inca. Apart from the usual stands selling fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products, there is a large choice of Mallorcan hand made arts, pottery, leather goods etc as well as the farming community offering all kinds of live animals.
Here you can buy almost anything, cows, horses, donkeys, sheep, hens, goats, ducks, or even a kitten to take home. It's also particularly interesting to observe the locals bartering. Remember, never accept the price at a market, always deal.
The market in Sineu opens at 8:00 but get there early as it soon becomes very busy. After you have finished your shopping and sightseeing trip, take a lunch in one of the excellent cellar restaurants or taverns around the market square (the best are close to the church).
To arrive to Sineu you can either rent a car or take the trains which leaves from Plaza de España in Palma. Driving will take about 25/30 minutes but it will really worth the time.
Roberto Menedez is a bit of a local celebrity. He was the driving force behind the Mallorca Jazz Festival and last year he opened the Jazz Voyeur Club on Carrer del Apuntadors in Palma. It has live music - jazz and soul most nights - and is the antithesis of the Puro beach bar. Where the latter is a dazzling white, outdoors Miami-style bar with local hipsters nodding to ambient tunes, the jazz club is small, dark and smoky. Nice.
Hidden behind heavy wooden doors lies an exotic courtyard garden that looks like the set for a Peter Greenaway film, filled as it is with birdcages, fairylights, bowls of fruit and countless flowering plants. It looks like it was made for misbehaviour - although the price of the cocktails may put you off going too wild.
Abaco, c/San Juan 1
Tel: 00 34 971 715974
We booked our trip through Balearic Discovery, a small travel company based on the island. Reliable, knowledgeable and helpful, I’d definitely recommend them if you want to explore some of the quieter corners of the island (they have some great rural hotels from about €55) or pre-arrange activities like horseriding, wine tasting, yoga or deepsea fishing.
Cacao Sampaka, part of a Spanish chain owned by pastry chef Albert Adria (brother of Ferran – he of El Bulli fame), is a haven for chocolate lovers. Poshly packaged, delicious, additive-free artisan chocolates, infused with spices, herbs and some downright weird flavours – anchovy and hazelnut anyone?
Pl. Marquès del Palmer, 1
07001 Palma de Mallorca
Tel: 971 71 43 09
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